Local View: Reject the complicity of silence, dismantle systemic racism
“There can’t be peace in the world if there isn’t justice.”
— Barbara Wiedner, founder of Grandmothers for Peace International
For years now, the valiant activists in the Black Lives Matter and Native Lives Matter movements, along with other notable groups led by people of color and people in marginalized communities, have put their lives on the line to expose the damage of systemic racism that the killing of George Floyd has brought into sharp focus. The social devastation caused by systemic racism now has a chance to finally be eradicated.
We must act to answer the call of African-Heritage leaders in our Twin Ports community for white people to take responsibility for dismantling systemic racism, built on the premise of white supremacy.
White supremacy is the presumption that white culture is the highest, most civilized, most intellectual, most sophisticated and moral culture and therefore sets the standard for all other cultures to strive toward. Policy, laws, and societal norms, all under the control of the "superior" race, are set and protected. Access to the benefits of this “highly evolved” society is determined by carefully selected gatekeepers. This is the systemic racism that we are responsible for dismantling.
Our nation is again at a crossroads. We must not go back to or normalize this hideous hierarchical system of domination built on brutality and lies.
White people must ask ourselves: What can we do today to fully end the violence and injustice of systemic racism, bring it to the light, and help heal the wounds? The first step is to listen. The next is to use our voices not in a superficial or meaningless way, but in a solid, well-thought-out, revolutionary way that can only be fully brought about in coalition with the very communities that the dominant culture has tried to either assimilate or eradicate.
For now, in our little local community of the Twin Ports, the Northland Chapter of Grandmothers for Peace will hold a weekly vigil, Thursdays at noon in our civic centers in Duluth and Superior. We will present a physical presence and a reminder to the local powers-that-be that change must come.
We will stand to witness that we will not be complicit with silence. We will take responsibility to change these structures. And we will work to create, shoulder-to-shoulder, a new society in which leadership will be shared by all people — where nobody will be left behind.
Anyone who shares this commitment is welcome to join with us.
Michele Naar-Obed of Duluth and Dorothy Wolden of Superior are members of the Northland Chapter of Grandmothers for Peace. Naar-Obed is also a Hildegard House Catholic Worker.